When the River Hawks, UMass Lowell’s Division I ice hockey team, won the Hockey East regular-season title for the first time, victory was sweet.
Also sweet, though not as well known, was the UMass Lowell Men's Club Ice Hockey
first-place finish in its division of the Northeastern Collegiate Hockey Association, NECHA, a Division II league.
How did a team finish first in only its third year of existence? A couple of students, now seniors, just wanted to play hockey.
Ryan Green, Air Force veteran and Washington state native, had played since age 3, for much of that time competitively, and believed he was good enough to make the cut at a Division I school. UMass Lowell had the hockey, the Air Force ROTC
and atmospheric sciences program
“I packed up my dog, Charlie Brown, and my things and made the drive across the country,” says Green. “No friends, no family waiting for me” – and no hockey, when he didn’t make the cut at team tryouts.
Looking for some serious hockey, Green ran across Scott Geddis, another player who fell just short of the Division I level. Geddis knew other students who were looking for competitive play. Once they found NECHA, there were eligibility requirements and a fair amount of bureaucracy involved.
“We did the paperwork through the Rec Center,” says Green. “We had to establish the club, contact NECHA, reach out to other schools to schedule games, build a budget” – it would be about $20,000, most of it to be borne by the players – “then organize a team and find ourselves a head coach.”
The team was up and running for the 2010-11 season, with Tony Koumantzelis, the University’s coordinator of recycling, stepping up to coach. By the beginning of the third season, tryouts had become very competitive and a really talented squad took the ice, according to current coach John Armstrong. For Green, who contributed six goals and two assists to the team’s final tally, it has been a season that’s made all the work worthwhile.
“It feels like we’ve succeeded in establishing a solid foundation for competitive Division II college club hockey,” says Green, who was chosen, with teammate Sean White, for the All-Star team of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, ACHA.